Running contacts insanity

If you're not already crazy for even considering doing a running dogwalk, the training is certainly going to the job.

Just when I thought I had a handle on Lance's training he pushes me off the deep end.  Either shortening his stride the entire way until his last one that he extends to happily reach for the ground and barely knick a toe in the yellow, or nicely running until the 2nd to last stride he shortens and then once again happily extends.  I was hoping to be at full height by now and clearly we have an eternity of this torture left. 

I finally decided to add a little mat this week.  I had just started experimenting with it 2yrs ago when I quit on the idea of Lance having a running contact and now I'm back to both ideas.  Don't judge me!  In theory I'm using it more as a reminder for Lance to not stretch over the yellow rather than a pounce on and off object like the pvc box method.  I'm hoping he will keep a natural run through the mat so I cut it fairly long.  Don't tell Silvia Trkman ;)

I have no idea if it will work.  Lance was doing very nicely with it and the board lowered quite a bit.  Then I raised it a little and while he's doing better than what he was doing I'm not sure what to think.  It seems like every time we get to this height Lance starts hitting higher and higher until we're no longer in the yellow at all.
Here's video of the 2nd session with the mat and then today's session:

Any suggestions?  Scrap the mat idea, keep it, go down in height, go up in height...???

And then there's Vito.  I thought Vito was doing really well with his turn training but it was fleeting.  Looking over the videos I think the higher hits started to occur with the 180 degree training.  I compiled some footage from the end of April here:

I think the footage shows him doing well.  He learned to add in a 3rd stride on turns and still hit low.  But f you look at the last two trials from the 180 turn footage (and those weren't rewarded in that session) that's pretty much what Vito is doing now on all turns.  I'm not sure what to do with him anymore.  I'm partly thinking of scraping all tight turn work and going back to doing really soft >90 degree turns to just get him running.  Never work on tight turns again and just hope he won't come off the side when those appear on course.  I could care less if he turns on the flat rather than adjusting his striding on the board.  I only went to turn training since Vito was figuring out if there wasn't an obstacle straight ahead he was going to be turning and he started coming off the side of the board/jumping.  Or is that a really bad idea that just avoids the issue?

Mango  – ( May 8, 2011 at 5:23 AM )  

That is a very subtle behavior to be working on at high speeds. They both seem to get it more often than not, but that isn't good enough for competition. No suggestions, but I loved the slow motion movies.

Mango Momma

Lynnda  – ( May 8, 2011 at 10:24 PM )  

I didn't go to Silvia's workshop but I think your dogs are reacting to what *you* are doing -- your position/location, speed, & gait effect their performance. Which is why what the dogs' are doing varies. For example. the early part of Lance's video -- with lower board -- you appear to be decelerating as Lance is getting to the yellow. And you are in different places with different rotation in Lance's video. While both dogs are focused forward, they can still know what you are doing with their peripheral vision. Just a thought....

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( May 9, 2011 at 6:00 PM )  

Thank you for the observation Lynnda. Most of the sessions I've been standing still but I think he does do better when I run. Unfortunately when I do run I decelerate right as he gets to the end of the board since I'm trying to see what he's doing. I hadn't thought how that is effecting him but I'm sure it has to. It's easier to be aware of what I'm doing with Vito's turn work since I know my motion is a big cue there!

Amy Carlson  – ( May 10, 2011 at 5:56 AM )  

It looks like you throw the ball after for Vito? I can't tell with Lance. Do you throw it after or in advance?

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( May 10, 2011 at 8:17 AM )  

When working turns with Vito I throw it after since I figured on the tight turns the ball would be in the opposite direction he was running. When he's going straight I originally taught him with the ball already placed and I go back to that when he's having a hard time.

Lance isn't real toy motivated so he runs to a food target (a manners minder).

Amy Carlson  – ( May 10, 2011 at 11:53 AM )  

Oh, doi! Yes, that makes sense. Yeah, Roscoe was never toy motivated. Wish I had the manners minder back then for him.

Shenna Lemche AKA Project Leader  – ( May 10, 2011 at 2:25 PM )  

Hm, interesting with the mat- I like that it's subtle enough to fade easily, but it might be too subtle? Sometimes he looks like he is trying to hit, but not seeing it/caring every time. For what it is worth, I've heard the box method doesn't work on DWs long term- leads to wild pounces, I think, especially with a big/long striding dog.

And I love Vito's DW on the straight. If I were you and had that- I'd scrap turns and manage them on the flat.

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( May 10, 2011 at 10:03 PM )  

Shenna- I think you're right about Lance not focusing on the mat. In some ways I'm really glad since I want it to stick with Silvia's natural running method. But maybe since it's such a big mat I should chop it down a bit so he has to focus a bit more and I can jackpot lower hits??

I really am leaning towards scraping Vito's turn work. I don't care if he turns wide so the work was originally just a combative measure to the coming off the side. I also think it's been messing with his straight work as he's been more likely to keep his back feet together on that last stride when running straight.

Loretta Mueller  – ( May 17, 2011 at 12:33 PM )  

Lynn encountered a few heights that REALLY gave her trouble. 20" for some reason was REALLY tough...she spent almost a week there, I went above that, she I just kept doing 20"...and doing 20" until she was 100% for many sessions...I would on occasion raise it up an inch to see how she was doing, if she jumped I went back down to 20. She also had this same issue at around 40"...took me 6 days at that height. Crackers was 19" and 38" he had issues with. suggestion would be...GO BACK to the height you liked his striding...and stay there for a bit...look for 100% hits. Once you get that...then stay there an extra session. THEN try to move up.

In regards to Vito, all I can tell you is what I am doing with Lynn. I am having Lynn first and foremost drive the dogwalk...that is goal #1. With turns, I am still working through this :) But I want her driving..GO means go to the end of the DW. That is what I am really proofing on her right now. The #1 thing she MUST do is drive her entire DW. Just like I would if I was loving laterally off my weaves or a jump. I will give her the turn or straight info depending on where she is on the DW. For me, I am normally behind so it's not like I get to the end and I am just hanging around :) So my forward motion continues to drive her forward. Does that make any sense?

Loretta Mueller  – ( May 17, 2011 at 12:34 PM )  

That would be "MOVING" laterally off my weaves :) LOL Darn phone!

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( May 17, 2011 at 10:44 PM )  

Thanks Loretta. Lance has gotten stressed, again, this week and it looks like going back down quite a bit will be the only good option.

Vito is still doing great on straights but now we're having a discussion on what is straight and what's a turn. Vito is telling me that extremely soft turns are not the same as straight no matter how ridiculously easy I tell him they should be. I don't think I'm cut out for this!

Loretta Mueller  – ( May 18, 2011 at 2:26 PM )  

Oh no :-( What is he driving to? If it's a toy, when he jumps do you call him off the toy or do you just not tug with him? I didn't call Lynn off a toy...just wasn't working for her :( Made her worry.

Yes, a week off sounds like a good idea...just to take some time to de-stress.

Ugh on Vito...I hear you..I totally understand and have been there...just stay positive. you've put a lot of work into it...take a break if you need to :) Or work on straights only for a while...


Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( May 18, 2011 at 11:01 PM )  

Corgi runs to a manners minder since he only thinks with his stomach. I pretty much "beep" everything that isn't completely horrid and then reward again with better treats on the good ones. He is just such a sensitive dog! It's a good thought to keep in mind with the toller though since I do call him off his ball and it's likely adding to any stress even if he's not really showing it as much.

Loretta Mueller  – ( May 27, 2011 at 4:02 PM )  

Gotcha...manners minders are a great tool! :) If I had a food hound of a dog, I think I would go get some nasty smell crap like that braunswager (sp?) stuff...if he does a great one, then I would maybe freeze it in a bowl and let him lick on it for like a minute...just to show him you are REALLY REALLY happy with that one :) Does that make sense?

It can be so frustrating...but just keep going!

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